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PC Peripherals 
For 2000



PC peripherals in 2000 will shake, rattle & roll--check out these reports from E3! 

MadCatz --Hot on the heels of its very popular joystick/trackball combo Panther XL comes the Panther XL Pro for PC Gameport and USB.  We haven't spent much time with this controller in the past but we had a ball with it at E3 this year.  This complete 3D combat controller is designed for optimum performance with your favorite FPS.  With 17 programmable buttons and 360-Degree move and aim control, you'd be hard-pressed to find a snazzier combo for your fragging enjoyment.  It takes a while to get used to everything the Pantner XL Pro has to offer (just ask Rick) but once you've got it down, enemies beware!  

Gravis--Partnering with Immersion Corporation, Gravis will introduce its first force feedback game pad with the Xterminator Force.  This USB device will contain compact motors that are activated by DirectX, allowing players to use this gamepad with any current (and future) force feedback titles.  Through its partnership with Immersion, Gravis looks to help players utilize more of their senses in order to take gaming to a new level of play. 

Logitech--Featuring dual-motor technology, the Wingman RumblePad is a dual-analog, vibration-feedback gamepad designed to enrich the force-feedback gaming experience.  Two analog sticks provide 360-Degree movement and an easily-accessible throttle is integrated as well.  Coupled with an 8-way D-pad and nine programmable buttons, the Wingman RumblePad is wel-suited for a wide variety of games, with or without force-feedback.  Logitech will also provide WingMan Profiler Software that lets players create and safe game-specific settings and includes more than 285 pre-set profiles with this USB gamepad.

Razer--From the makers of the revolutionary BoomSlang gaming mouse comes yet another ultra-precise product using the proprietary Karna light-encoding technology, the Razer Mamba.  Sampling movement at up to 2000 dots-per-inch, the Mamba delivers the accuracy and agility needed for frenetic, action-packed gameplay.  The design of the Mamba is noticeably different (and more conventional) than the aforementioned BoomSlang.  Like it's predecessor, the Mamba has a patented dust barrier system and an on-the-fly sensitivity function that allows for adjustments during gameplay.  Designed for hardcore players, expect the Mamba to deliver an advantage that can make the difference between winning and losing.  

Microsoft--Two exciting products for PC gamers from Microsoft are the SideWinder Game Voice and the SideWinder Strategic Commander.  The SideWInder Game Voice is a gaming headset and control unit that enables both voice commands and voice chat over the Internet or LAN during game play while the SideWinder Strategic Commander is a left-handed gaming device specifically designed for strategy games, but it can be used with any genre of game. It's designed to enhance use of the mouse and keyboard, complementing both but replacing neither.  Both products connect via USB port and are fully functional on-line or off-line.  For example, players can take advantage of Game Voice’s voice command functionality. To activate this feature, a gamer needs only to press a button and then speak commands to respond swiftly and intuitively to any situation they might find themselves in during gameplay.  The sleek design of Strategic Commander gives gamers access to the most critical building and unit-control tasks through six programmable buttons. By using three modifiers and a three-position profile switch, up to 72 key combinations can be programmed into the gaming device. Strategic Commander also facilitates the smooth map scrolling and fluid camera movements ideal for use with 3D viewing found in next-generation strategy games.

With the introduction of force-feedback gamepads, voice controllers, and 3D FPS and Strategy gaming devices, this looks to be a break-through year for a variety of PC controllers.  While some of the products have been announced so recently that we don't even have images yet, all of them are due to be released during third- and fourth-quarter 2000. 

--Al Wildey